Submitted by: Amber Morseau

Category: Stories

The Traditions of a Beautiful Night

Dress uniforms, beautiful gowns, and the meaning of esprit de corps! The United States Marine Corps guards it’s most famous and preserved tradition, the Birthday Ball. On November 10, Marines all across the globe celebrate traditions that come from well-deserved victories. No matter what the rank, amount of time served, or what country you fought in; they come together as brothers in arms to celebrate The United States Marine Corps.
The Marines Ball did not start off as formal as it is today. In 1921 Commandant General Lejeune issued an order that on November 10, all Marines are to read his order honoring the creation of the Corps. After some time a few bases not only honored the birth of it, but celebrated it. The first organized Marine Corps Ball was held in the founding city of the U.S.M.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1925. The “big” ball is now held at Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington D.C... But Marines don’t just party in D.C.! Where ever there is a battalion of Marines there is a celebration honoring there brotherhood.

As Marines have an unwavering pride and commitment to the Corps they have that same pride and commitment to their wives and even girlfriends. It is very traditional for Marines to bring their better half to enjoy a romantic evening and dance the night away! Every beautiful woman that shows up on the arm of her handsome Marine feels an honor that no other woman can feel. She feels proud to have earned a place among one of the few and the proud wives, who like herself has spent many long nail biting days and painfully lonely nights. Marines bring there wives because they are just as proud of them as they are of themselves. Being a Marine wife holds a special unseen spot in society and on this night they show there faith for the whole world to see.

One of the most symbolized and respected traditions of this grand celebration is the cutting of the cake! This tradition was first established by Commandant, General Lemuel Shepherd, 1952. Much like a birthday party the first piece is given to the eldest Marine in attendance. This symbolizes the past history of the Corps, the older more glorious tales from wars past. The second piece is given to the youngest Marine in attendance. This represents the new and upcoming times for the Corps, and in hopes that world peace will be more than just talk. After these significant pieces are given every Marine and there guest receives a piece and thus a true celebration is had.

Honoring the Marine Corps Birthday is more to a Marine than just a celebration. It is an achievement. It takes hard work and dedication to become one of the few and the proud. Thirteen weeks of back breaking training and being presented their first eagle, globe and anchor, is something most of us will never get to experience. Marines are prepared to fight and die for this country and so this celebration is like there second birthday. Each Ball counts as another year of survival and another year of adventure for the Marines and all of their loved ones. 237 years of tradition and commitment to this country, we are the land of the free because of the brave!

Chenoweth, A., & Nihart, B. (2001). Semper Fi (pp. 16-17). New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co.
History and Traditions (2001). In Retrieved September 20, 2012

About the author:

I am a proud daughter and a girlfriend of two Marines. I am currently an enrolled student at Eastern Michigan University and majoring in Occupational Therapy. After graduation I plan to work at a VA hospital to give back to those who have given so much for this country.